Friday, December 12, 2008
This week's literary event of the week is actually next week, but hell, it's Friday, so we might as well start early. Sarah Reidy over at Soho Press is organizing a massive happy hour at Kings Head Tavern next Thursday so we can all drink our publishing blues away. Word on the street is that beer pong tables have been reserved and drink specials procured. Mention Sarah's name at the door to get a wristband to ensure happy hour prices all night long.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
If you are smarter than me (not hard), please leave instructions on how I can do this in the comments or email me. Much obliged.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
p.s. yeah, I know we haven't posted in awhile but for some reason, the economy being in the shitter has somehow equalled more work. bizarre. I haven't even had a chance to read the comic strips on my daily calendar. honest to blog. it's stuck on october 21st. so, yeah. hopefully, we'll get back on track soon with nice frequent posts but until then, um, go obama.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
But, Jackie, I think you may of made an error in your recent interview with the 26th Story, when you said (in response to: Is it possible for a self-published author to get on the Today show?) this:
Absolutely...I have always said books are another vehicle for us to find great stories/segments, and if one happens to come from someone who published on their own, that's fine with me as long as all the facts in the book check out. If an author has the wherewithal to find me and pitch me, good for them, but at the same time, they have to be able to handle a "no" without having that buffer called "a publicist."
Oh my. See, here's a little secret. All authors would harass book reviewers, producers, etc. by themselves if they could. But we, as publicists, forbid it. Not because we want to do it ourselves. I'm happy to let other people do my work for me. It's simply that we are trying to protect you from the onslaught of inappropriate pitches, harassment from authors who have "nothing" to lose (we have your respect and our chances of ever getting ANY author on the show at risk), etc. We are trying to provide that extra filter for you. And how do we do that? By telling authors that you will ignore them. That you don't want to hear from them. That contacting you directly will HURT their chances, not help them.
But now, you've basically let them know that this is really just a free for all. And, well, I'm afraid that I just can't help you anymore. Godspeed, Ms. Levin, and I pray that your inbox does not implode.
[This is a couple days behind the curve, but to be fair, Ladytron sent it to me on Monday. I just posted it late. My bad. --Ed.]
I hear there will be pie...
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I won't be there as I will be home with a bottle of wine and the debate, but hey, I've deprived you guys of a literary event for a several weeks now, so here you go.
Don't say I don't love you.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
No word yet on how the rest of the publicity/marketing team will be split. But perhaps this will finally slow down that ever-spinning revolving door?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, believes that the reading public "feels stuff not worthy of them is being shoved down their throats." The difficult part, she says, is that the audience for "serious books . . . really doesn't want to be marketed to. But if you don't market to them, they don't know what to read."
As someone who has worked on a number of books that were considered "literary" but got less coverage than any celebrity memoir or Harlan Coben book, I feel that. The industry has become so focused on what will sell rather than what is good, that, at times, it feels as though we are destroying ourselves from within.
The article looks at reprints, with the basic argument seeming to be that people are becoming dissatisfied with the fiction being offered to them, so they are turning to older books that are now being reintroduced to the market. And that the big houses are in danger of losing the trust of readers by tainting their once respected name.
It's an interesting theory, but I would like to argue that there are plenty of good books still being published. The focus just isn't being given to them. And in order to publish the "good" books, it seems that publishers have to balance it out with the "commercial" ones that will bring in the money. Publishers hedge their bets on a couple sure blockbusters in order to keep them afloat so they can try out other books.
But doesn't it seem that maybe if we shrunk the scale, we could solve all the problems at once? Why do we have to have massive lists? Can't we throw all of our energy into books we believe in, rather than just try to market them in between fielding calls about Stephanie Meyer or Curtis Sittenfeld? And, it's not just publishers that are to blame. The media covering the industry doesn't seem to be interested in discovering a new writer...they seem to just want to talk about the author everyone else already is.
Monday, September 15, 2008
First up, we have the hella long article in New York Magazine, which asserts that, basically, we're all screwed. Some choice quotes:
Yet in recent years, more accurate internal sales numbers have confirmed what publishers long suspected: Traditional marketing is useless.
“Media doesn’t matter, reviews don’t matter, blurbs don’t matter,” says one powerful agent. Nobody knows where the readers are, or how to connect with them....Augh, so true! In fact, I think I have mentioned these points before in some of my rants. Not to mention, the book has to be in stores. The book can be reviewed everywhere, but if it's not sitting on a table at B&N, it's probably not going to sell giant numbers. Which brings us to point #2...
Marketing a book these days is like playing a slot machine;
hitting one 7 won’t get you a dime. “There has to be this constellation of events,” says Daniel Menaker, whose departure was tied in the press to the low sales of Benjamin Kunkel’s much-ballyhooed debut novel, Indecision. “Not only a Times Book Review front cover but Don Imus talking about it and Ellen Pompeo actually reading the book on-camera. And Barack Obama has just bought it.”
This matters because the following response from Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio is only technically true: “We buy every title published—our business is a long-tail business—less than 5 percent is from bestsellers.”I'm gonna agree with Nash here. Also, sometimes they might buy 500 of a book. But 500 copies for all of the stores? Not helpful. It means that book is either sitting in a carton in the warehouse somewhere, or shoved on a back shelf. Moving on...
Editors insist that plenty of books get skipped. Richard Nash, head of indie publisher Soft Skull Press, estimates that one in twenty are passed over, though ten to fifteen copies are shipped into their warehouses in case there’s a special order. Many more are getting smaller initial orders than ever. That’s a very long, very skinny tail.
It’ll be rough going in the meantime; some publishers will transform, some will muddle through, some will die. And there will, no doubt, be a lot of editors for whom even this diminished era will look like the last great golden age, when some writers were paid in the millions,some of their books produced in the millions, and more than half of those books actually sold. Book publishing is still a big-league business, and that’s a hard thing to let go of. “There’s something terrible,” says an editor at a prestigious imprint, “about admitting that you’re not a mass medium.”Oh, god. This was the golden age? Not according to Al Silverman. His new book, The Time of Our Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Book Publishers, Their Editors and Authors, defines the golden age as the period between 1946 and the early 1980s, the period "when 'books were most beloved by a reading public.' Soon afterward, the great 'bookmen' stepped aside and the bottom-liners of business took over."
(NY Mag also references the decline when publishing became about conglomerates rather than taste: "In its heyday, publishing was a vast array of mom-and-pop shops, in which the pops tended to be independently wealthy. Their competitive advantage was not efficiency or low costs but taste....By the nineties, five big conglomerates were divvying up the spoils and their lucrative backlists. Many of the smaller companies that had been struggling, like FSG, Ecco, and Crown, were flush with corporate resources. But in exchange, they gave up final say in how they’d publish their books—or even what books they’d publish. And suddenly an industry accustomed to 5 percent margins was being run by media moguls aiming for double digits.")
Crap. I guess I was about 20 years too late. I imagine the old days of publishing were a bit like an episode of Mad Men. As Gawker puts it, "It can be difficult to know you're in a golden age. You might be too busy working. You might be too caught up in the hum of everyday life. You might live in Omaha. But here's a hint: there are usually a lot of white guys in bow ties smoking indoors." Now, that would have been fun.
Friday, September 12, 2008
1. Don't be a prima donna: Nobody likes a prima donna. Think about about what you're asking for before you ask. Is it really necessary or did someone tell you that this is what you're supposed to ask for as an author? Difficult, high-maintenance authors develop a reputation with publicists, booksellers, producers, media escorts and other authors.
2. Don't call your publicist several times a day with new questions. Don't send your publicist more than one email a day. Instead, gather up as many of your questions as possible into one email, and then wait for an answer before sending off another.
3. Don't forget to say thank you: It's not necessary to buy your publicist or editor or marketing person a gift. But it's absolutely proper to send a thank-you note or email after your campaign is over. And you'd be surprised at how often authors don't do this. Say thank you. It'll go a very long way toward earning you respect as a professional.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Oh, yeah, sorry. That rant was caused by the fact that, right on the heels of New York Times journalist David Carr's admission that he was womanizing, abusive, and all around bad person/crack addict, Bill Clegg is also coming out of the crack closet. We all remember when he disappeared in 2005, although I don't really remember caring very much. Well, apparently, he was off doing crack and then getting clean. But do I care?
ps. LC has apparently already outlined the first book. I wonder if she's using the book above as a reference?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Back in April, reviewing Salman Rushdie's most recent novel in the pages of the Financial Times, book critic John Sutherland — even though he admitted to not understanding its plot — made this bold promise: "If The Enchantress of Florence doesn't win this year's Man Booker I'll curry my proof copy and eat it." Today, however, after the Rushdie-less Booker short list was announced, Sutherland reneged: "I vowed — publicly — to curry and eat my proof copy of The Enchantress of Florence if it didn't win. It won't. And I won't. So there." Shameful! We suppose we could understand if he were backing out of eating a tough, chewy stitch-bound hardcover first edition — but this is a soft-cover proof copy! Those things are delicious!
Monday, September 8, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Some choice tidbits:
[Dahl] begged his superiors to take him off the assignment, only to be told to get back into the bedroom.
"I think he slept with everybody on the east and west coasts that [was worth] more than $50,000 a year."
Despite Dahl's reputation as "one of the biggest cocksmen in America"...
All I have to say, is that I wrote a book report in elementary school on Matilda and I wish I had done my author bio research more thoroughly!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
- Brit lost her virginity at 14 to her high school football boyfriend. He was 18 (ahem. statutory rape. cough). So I guess Justin didn't get to take her v-card after all.
- Brit started drinking back in the Mouseketeer days - at 13. Christ, even I didn't get drunk for the first time until I was 15...
- ...which is apparently the age when Britney discovered drugs, after going to L.A. to record Baby One More Time (which I own and still listen to. "You drive me craaaaazy.")
- At 16, Brit stepped it up a notch and was caught with coke and pot on a private jet.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Amen, sister. That's all I gotta say. Amen.
Q: Did you like doing publicity?
A: In my opinion, the two jobs that are the most exhausting in this business are the jobs of the foreign scout and the publicist. The reason is that there is never an end to the job. If you're a scout, there is always another book you can cover, another house you can do well by, another report you can write. If you're a publicist, for every eighty letters you write, and eighty ideas you try, there are seventy-nine that don't work. But the only ones that the author hears about–and the editor hears about and your boss hears about–are the ones that work. It is a thankless and really difficult job. But I did it.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
ps. Speaking of penguin romance, I hear congratulations may be in order soon for a clandestine couple over at 375 Hudson. More to come on that...
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Now, I’m not a regular watcher of “Run’s House” so I have no idea if Russell Simmons makes regular cameos on the show. But, I found it to be a fascinating coincidence that on the show devoted to Run and Mrs. Run’s new book, Russell appeared and managed to hand mini-Run a copy of HIS book as inspiration. Published by who? Gotham Books, of course. Hmm….
Monday, August 4, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
This could well be the nerdiest day at Slunch ever but we can we do. Today the new Harry Potter trailer was unleashed and if you haven’t seen it yet then I’m sorry what are you doing? Actual work? Lame.
In the trailer we got glimpses of young He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (go ahead say it – I dare you) and Dumbledore fighting off an army of Inferi and Harry looking all stressed out. The whole thing gave me chills – but as you all know I’m a sucker for movie trailers. However it did bring up some questions – like where is the romance? And did we even see Hermione – that’s odd And WTF – Where was Alan Rickman? There are some things I feel strongly about and Alan Rickman is one them.
So what did you all think? Excited? Don’t care? Let’s hear it – I’ll check back after I’ve watched the trailer a couple more times.
It remains to be seen, however, if Ladytron will once again brave the masses to report on the chaos for us. She seemed quite frightened at the idea of lining up in Union Square again. So if any of you slunch fans attend a party, feel free to send something in to us! And look for a review of the new book in the next week or so.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
1) The work never ends. No matter how much publicity you get for a book, there is always more to get, something else to do, another person to pitch, news angle to take advantage of. There is never a sense of completion, just a slow winding down of how much attention you give an author and their book. I’d like closure for once in my life.
2) Too many books. You want me to effectively publicize 5 books a month? Do 3 tours in one month? Ummm, that’s an unreasonable expectation. Ain’t gonna happen. 1 will get my full attention. 3 will get the bare minimum. One will totally get lost in the shuffle. I’m tired of not having the resources, tools and time to do my job effectively. Why doesn’t the biz realize that it’s publishing too many books for the staff resources to actually work on? And even worse, publishing books that compete against each other. I can only pitch so many people so many times before I piss them off. Looking forward to less stress and getting that krick out of my neck from holding the phone to my ear with my shoulder from too many conference calls.
3) Unreasonable authors and their expectations. Yeah, I know this book is your baby, I know you spent 3 years writing it, but face it, calling me every day to check the status on your book is taking away time from working on your book. You’re a first time author and its mass market and nobody has ever heard of you and really don’t care. I’m doing my best here. Every one hour meeting with your agent, the editor and my boss you want to have is an hour I’m not working on your book. Hey, some of you were a joy to work with and for that I’m thankful but I’m really tired of dealing with the rest of you. Bye.
4) Meetings. The last place I worked we actually had meetings to discuss what we would say and cover in our upcoming meeting. I’d say ¼ of my time was spent in planning meetings, marketing meetings, sales meetings, meeting authors & agents on potential buys. Enough! I’m done with meetings… unless it’s over lunch or a beer and you’re buying.
5) Quality of life. I’ve eaten breakfast and lunch at my desk for the last time. I’m turning in my blackberry so I don’t have to get an email from my boss on the weekend about something we can easily discuss on Monday. I’m never working late or on the weekend again after a five day week because there’s too much work to be done and instead of increasing staff to cover the work load it’s been cut. I’m going to start eating at a proper table… or over the sink.
Yeah, I'm sure some of you snarky commenters will be like "geez, what a baby, suck it up and stop whining. I'm not whining but venting and moving on. If all i did was just complain and not change anything, well then, you'd be right to taunt me. However, i'm just sick of the shit and not in a position to change the industry from the inside so I'm getting out of it. Good luck, suckahs! See you in hell, or at the bar, which ever is closer.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
And more importantly, do you think Christoper Ciccone is scrambling to write his follow-up with all this new ammunition?
Monday, July 7, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Got an email this past weekend in reference to this post. Came from an individual who read Gould's proposal in its entirety. Last weekend, a few folks end up at a bar, gather around a table, and one attendee pulls multiple copies of the proposal from her purse. Said copies are passed around, read, and readers find themselves "collectively aghast at its bone-shattering awfulness." Reportedly, it's "painful" to read. Supposedly, Gould as recently as a week ago declared she wouldn't be writing a memoir because writing 8,000 words about herself was too depressing, and she couldn't imagine writing 80,000 words about herself. I guess this is the part in the post where I'm supposed to say something insightful, but the only thing I can think to say is just because it sucks doesn't mean it won't sell for $250K-plus in a matter of days. I guess that's the breaks when the idiots are driving the clown car.
Updated: Another anonymous emailer who was present for the proposalakkake concurs: "I was there when that book proposal came out. And I'll tell you with remorse, as someone who has been trying to stick up for Emily: it's abysmal. It makes me sad."
I've talked to a couple people who have read the manuscript, and opinions seem to vary from "hideous" to "I enjoyed it." I have yet to get my grubby hands on a manuscript so I can offer no guidance. But, if anyone has one they want to send to the Editor via email, that would be totally sweet.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
- The Original Publishers Marketplace Deal for Sloane: Vintage/Anchor associate publicity director Sloane Crosley's I WAS TOLD THERE'D BE CAKE, humorous essays about the glamor of inadequacy, to Jennifer Pooley at William Morrow, for publication in fall 2007, by Denise Shannon at Denise Shannon Literary Agency (NA). Apparently the book was originally more ettiquette themed, and at some point, the focus changed, as did the publisher.
- A claim the Emily's book went for $250k, and Sloane's for $75k.
- A claim that Sloane's book went for much less than $75k.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
According to senior supervising producer Joe Matazzoni, NPR.org "can’t cover the book industry like PW or the New York Times. We’re here to try and point our audience to good books. Our audience identifies with our sensibility and looks to us for judgment and taste. We’re a filter.”
Hmm, filter? Are you trying to say that the reviewers at PW and the NYT don't have good "sensibility" or any "judgement and taste"? It seems like the purpose of any book review section is to be just that. To review books so you know what you're getting into before you buy it. And while, yes, PW reviews a lot of books, it's not as thought the Times just throws out book reviews willy-nilly. I'm pretty sure that there is a fairly lengthy consideration process. Plus, no offense, Joe - it is NPR DOT ORG - as in not the radio. I wonder if our bosses will be as excited about a listing on the website as they would be about an Alan Cheuse review or an interview with Terry Gross? Somehow, I doubt it.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Sigh. I have to start working on my genius novel. I could really use $900, 000. Or, you know what? Ann Godoff - I will make you a deal. If you promise to publish my book, I promise that I will not take a penny more than $500k from you. I think that's fair, considering that you haven't read it and I haven't written it. But, I'm sure it will be good. Look at all the genius bits I write on here. I mean, how could it NOT succeed? And I already have this great platform. Oh, haven't you heard of slunch? It's immensely popular. Advertisers are clamouring to pay us, but you know, we have integrity and all. Sorry, American Apparel. You lose. (just kidding. American Apparel, if you want to give us money, it's totally cool! I'll even wear your stuff while I type. and talk about how soft your t-shirts are. call me!)